'$pend-O-Meter': NYS spends $15 million an hour

New York's new state budget is spending taxpayers' New York's new state budget is spending taxpayers' money at a rate of more than $15 million every hour, or $4,373 per second, according to a whirring "$pend-O-Meter" created by the Empire Center for New York State Policy. Photo Credit: Empire Center website

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ALBANY -- New York's new state budget is spending taxpayers' money at a rate of more than $15 million every hour, or $4,373 per second, according to a whirring "$pend-O-Meter" created by the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

The fiscally conservative think tank's online device shows the $137.9 billion budget adopted Monday spends $377.8 million per day and more than $2 billion per week.

About another $5 billion in temporary federal funds for recovery from superstorm Sandy and for implementation of the Affordable Care Act is not included."New York State government will spend $16.7 million more per day under the newly enacted budget than it did just five years ago," said E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center. "Our $pend-O-Meter is just one way to put the massive New York State budget in perspective."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature have tried to reduce the rate of spending. The budget passed Monday keeps spending increases under 2 percent for the fourth straight year. The total budget has grown more than $36 billion since the 2004-05 budget, which totaled $101.6 billion, according to state budget records.

Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer's first and only budget increased state spending by 10.3 percent in 2007. The budget adopted in 2004 under Republican Gov. George Pataki swelled after overrides of his vetoes by 10.7 percent.

Govs. Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo, both Democrats, presided over a string of budgets that each increased state spending by more than 10 percent."The state has been more disciplined," said Elizabeth Lynam of the nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission.

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The commission has expressed concern about the 2015-16 fiscal year, after the 2014-15 election year budget. The 2014-15 budget pushes the cost of much of the promised tax cuts and part of the 5 percent increase in school aid into the next fiscal year, when a temporary millionaires tax extended by Cuomo and the legislature that brings in $2 billion a year is due to expire.

Cuomo and the legislature also agreed to borrow up to $5 billion for construction projects and other spending.

New Yorkers will be able to vote on $2 billion of the total meant to to provide updated computers and to build computer labs in schools. Borrowing for schools is usually approved by voters. About $6 billion a year is already spent to pay for existing debt, one of the higher totals among states.

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"Governor Cuomo is desperate to fool New Yorkers into thinking he has changed the state's spending problem," said Jessica Proud, spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive. "Nothing has changed."

Cuomo didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan, fiscally conservative group, on Wednesday ranked New York tops in total state and local tax burden as a percentage of state income.

The organization's formula used 2011 taxes and statistics, and determined that New York's "state-local tax burden as share of state income" was 12.6 percent. That's based on an income of $52,417 and other factors. New Yorkers paid an average of $5,258 to the state and $6,622 to local governments in 2011, the Tax Foundation said.

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